April 15, 2011

Nagle Has Colgate Back in Patriot League Hunt

by Chris R. Vaccaro | LaxMagazine.com

Tewaaraton candidate Peter Baum is a big reason why No. 20 Colgate, 3-10 a year ago, is now 8-3 following victories over Navy and Army.

This time last season, Colgate couldn't buy a win. Things have drastically changed for the better in Hamilton, N.Y., and men's lacrosse coach Jim Nagle is chalking it all up to senior leadership.

Last season's 3-10 record was a blip on Colgate's rather consistently successful radar screen. Otherwise in the past four years, the Raiders, currently ranked 20th in the USILA Division I poll, have not won fewer than nine games. They already sport an 8-3 record with two regular season games left this year.

Riding a four-game winning streak, including back-to-back victories over Navy (4-7) and Army (7-4), then ranked No. 9, Colgate has shot up as a top contender in the Patriot League.

The program, Nagle said, is such that the margin of victory is so slim in the league, anything can happen down the stretch. Fifteenth-ranked Bucknell (10-2), the only other team with an undefeated conference record at 4-0, will play Colgate in their regular season finale. Army sits third, followed by a balanced Lehigh (6-6) team and then Navy.

"The key is improving," Nagle said. "The team that gets better is the team that wins the league."

Colgate's major offensive production has come from Peter Baum (29g, 9a), Andrew Mould (15g, 3a) and Ben McCabe (15g, 3a). Jim Carroll has been the leader on faceoffs with a .558 winning percentage (106-of-190). Jared Madison, who has a 7.64 goals against average, has started all 11 games in net.

Nagle said players like captains Greg Perkins, Rob Bosco and Mould and other seniors like Carroll, Dave Tucciarone, Frank Coughlin and Will Treichler have been difference makers from the offseason on. He learned quickly how this group of athletes would be able to deal with early-season adversity following Raiders losses to Hofstra and Vermont to open their schedule.

"Our senior leadership has been tremendous." Nagle said. "The hardest thing to do, when you have a little bit of adversity in the beginning of the year, is to look internally, not point the finger and learn and grow. That's been the biggest reason [for our success].

"The seniors are a really accountable bunch. The nice thing about our group is that we never have to worry about them being over-confident. They've an easy group to coach. Sometimes we have to pull back on them a little bit from beating themselves up and not living in the moment."

It's also something of a comeback year for Nagle, who has been reported as a candidate for several high-profile Division I openings over the years, including Ohio State in 2008, Denver in 2009 and Penn State in 2010.

"I'm happy here," he said. "I'll be here as long as they want me."

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